When people speak of credit scores they are usually referring to FICO scores. It's important to know your number because it impacts whether you can buy a house or car, the interest rates you pay on loans and credit cards, and sometimes even whether you get hired for your dream job.
What Is a FICO Score?
The three primary reporting agencies are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Banks and other credit issuers report to them regularly, and these agencies maintain a record of your accounts, credit limits, amounts borrowed, and payments. FICO develops algorithms that distil each person's information into a FICO score.
What Your FICO Score Means
While FICO scores range from 300 to 850, your number will need to be well above the mid-range to obtain credit at favorable terms, according to FreeScore.com.
|Range||Level||What it Means|
|720 to 850||Excellent||Combined with sufficient income, you should qualify for almost any credit product and receive the best available interest rates.|
|680 to 719||Good||This rating will generally allow you to qualify for a mortgage or refinance to a lower rate. You will also qualify for most other loans and lines of credit and receive competitive rates.|
|620 to 679||Average||You may still be able to obtain credit at reasonable rates, but you will probably not be in a position to negotiate for better rates.|
|580 to 619||Poor||While you may still be able to obtain credit, you will pay substantially more in fees and interest than people with higher scores.|
|300 to 579||Very Poor||Obtaining credit at any price will be a challenge.|
How Do You Measure Up?
To give you an idea of where your credit stands compared with others in your area, the following chart lists the average credit score by state. This information was compiled by Credit Karma and is subject to change often.
|State||Credit Score||State||Credit Score|
Personalized Credit Reports
Every U.S. citizen is eligible to receive one free credit report annually. To obtain yours visit AnnualCreditReport.com or call 1-877-322-8228. The report is completely free, but it does not include a FICO score. Appending the score costs $7.
Additional credit reports are available from the three reporting agencies, at any time, for a fee.
Know the Score
Good credit doesn't just happen and bad credit doesn't just go away. Take the time to educate yourself. Know your credit score and take steps to keep it healthy. Check your credit reports well in advance of a purchase.